Managing Mobility in Missouri

More than 6,000 students changed schools two or more times this year in Kansas City, Missouri. That’s at least a quarter of the student population. This issue of student mobility means students are more likely to rack up absences and, as a result, less likely to graduate high school.

According to the Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium, many of the students transferring from one school to the other are missing up to 10 days between transfers.

To shine a light on the challenges that highly mobile students face in Kansas City, Missouri, Turn the Page KC and the City of Kansas City hosted a GradNation Community Summit on September 1. At least 160 stakeholders participated in the daylong strategic meeting to better understand student mobility, and how to work across sectors to develop strategies that lessen the burden on students who switch schools.

Dr. Russ Rumberger, Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara, laid out the context and scope of student mobility: when it comes to understanding why students are moving, it largely has to do with affordable housing.

Poor housing choices and low-paying, low-skilled jobs often force families to move. Many caregivers go from apartment to apartment in search of rental specials that allow residents to get one or two months free; once the special expires, the caregivers move on to the next rent special, even if it means crossing school district lines and putting their child’s school attendance record in jeopardy.

Additionally, Kansas City school discipline policies put young people at a higher risk of missing school or needing to transfer because of suspensions or expulsions. Other major life changes for students like the death or the divorce of parents, siblings or grandparents also impacts student mobility and attendance.

After summit leaders laid out the problem of student mobility, participants broke up into community groups to come up with solutions.

One group focused on improving student record keeping. By creating a streamlined process for transferring enrollment documents and student transcripts, schools could reducing the time it takes for students to enroll in a new school. To join this solution group, click here.
The second solution group focused their work on creating welcoming and stable environments for newly transferred students to ensure smooth transitions from school-to-school. Readers from the Kansas City area are encouraged to also join this solution group.

Participants from each of the community solutions groups will be reconvening later in September and early October to continue their prototyping sessions. Stakeholders are also encouraged to stay in contact with the city and potentially participate as thought leaders as the city works to create an action plan to help combat student mobility.

To stay abreast of what the Kansas City community is doing to combat absenteeism as a result of mobility, please contact Mike English, Executive Director at Turn the Page Kansas City to learn more.

About GradNation Community Summits

As part of the GradNation campaign to reach a 90 percent on-time high school graduation rate by 2020 and encourage dramatic increases in postsecondary enrollment and graduation, America’s Promise Alliance is working with community partners across the country to host 100 community summits through 2016.

Each community summit convenes multi-sector leaders to identify challenges facing young people in their communities and develop strategies to address them. To learn more about community summits or find one in your area, visit our community summits page online.